Three-goal second period helps Coyotes turn tables on Sharks
GLENDALE, Ariz. — To a man, the Coyotes glossed over a first period in which they were outshot 14-6 on Tuesday at Gila River Arena. It’s easy to gloss over slow starts when you finish as strong as the Coyotes did against the San Jose Sharks.
Brad Richardson, Lawson Crouse and Jamie McGinn scored in an 8:17, second-period onslaught and the Coyotes never took the foot off the pedal in a 3-2 win that bumped their home record to 2-1 and put some distance between themselves and a bitter, 1-5 road trip.
“As a team, it was a game that we needed to win,” said goalie Louis Domingue, who made a career-high 39 saves in a memorable performance his team needed desperately with starter Mike Smith still injured and Domingue afflicted by soft goals through his first six games. “I was feeling good, but I’ve been feeling good almost all year. It was just a matter of being focused for 60 minutes and getting the job done.”
Coach Dave Tippett has bemoaned his team’s inability to win one-goal games this season but the Coyotes found the formula in the final 40 minutes after a rough first 20. San Jose had the Coyotes hemmed in for much of the first period when they took a 1-0 lead on Patrick Marleau’s goal off a 2-on-1 rush.
“In the first period, there was three or four times when we had clearing plays that … got cleared and then you go down to the other end and you didn’t execute very well so it comes back in your end,” Tippett said. “The other thing in that first period, we had about five or six faceoffs and we lost every one of them and then it’s coming back to our net.”
That wasn’t a problem in the second period when the Coyotes outshot San Jose 13-10. Brad Richardson corralled a loose puck in the corner and skated out in front of the net without much resistance to score his fourth goal of the season — tied with Radim Vrbata for the team lead — at the 3:42 mark.
Crouse put the Coyotes on top for good with his first NHL goal, deflecting Kevin Connauton’s point shot past goaltender Martin Jones just 1:08 after Richardson’s goal. Jamie McGinn added a goal at the 11:59 mark.
“I was lucky enough to get a stick on it,” Crouse said of his landmark goal. “From there on out I kind of blacked out a little bit.”
Crouse knows he has to make an impression. With the magic nine-game mark approaching for the Coyotes’ junior-eligible rookie, his days in the NHL could be numbered this season, but he insists he is not looking that far down the road.
“The kid’s been playing pretty good,” said teammate Ryan White, who tried to scoop the puck up for Crouse but couldn’t pick it up. “That one is always special but he had a big game to back it up. He blocked a couple shots in the third and he played a big-man game out there.”
The same could be said of the Coyotes, who haven’t gotten off to the start they wanted with so much youth in their lineup, including center Dylan Strome, who returned after missing the last four games as a healthy scratch.
“When you’re losing, you’re a fragile group. I don’t care who you are,” said White, who got the better of Micheal Haley in a fight to fire up his teammates. “We haven’t been winning games so it’s pretty easy to get down on yourself, but we had a good veteran play by Richy to get us going in the second and the rest was just one line after the other getting the puck in deep and going to work.
“The more we realize we’ve got to be a blue-collar, lunch-bucket team, the quicker we’re going to be winning more games.”
Center Martin Hanzal left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Left winger Tobias Rieder also left the game in the third period after taking a David Schlemko shot off the inside of his left leg late in the second period. He skated one nine-second shift to test it in the third period before leaving.
Tippett said Hanzal was ailing at the morning skate with something that “just popped up” but he decided to play and could not finish. Both players are listed as day to day.